Dear The Huffington Post: A letter I wish I didn’t need to write

Dear The Huffington Post,

It pains me that, in 2012, I need to write this, but, surprise, if Bar Rafaeli tweets that she had a pat-down at the airport that made her uncomfortable, then that’s it. End of story. If anything, such a revelation prompts an investigation into the practices of American frisking staff, and emphatically NOT the incredibly misjudged, misogynistic and utterly mind-baffling array of ignorance that you actually published, which went far beyond the value of the non-news story you were trying to mock.

Yes, Bar Rafaeli is a supermodel with dubious choices in fashion, underwear and frankly occupation. Yes, she’s more traditionally ‘beautiful’ than most other people getting a pat-down in your average airport queue. Yes, she’s using a very public forum to air her view, so is technically giving people the right to discuss what she may or may not have meant, or why she’s chosen to air her views in that way, without her having the opportunity to reply.

But the news that a woman – hell, a person ‒ whoever she or he is, felt uncomfortable during what should be an entirely perfunctory and routine check to ensure safety and nothing more (I’ve been frisked at airports loads of times and never once felt uncomfortable with the actions of the woman doing it), does not give you free rein to suggest that, perhaps because for some, she is easy on the eye, she is ‘humblebragging’, or in any way deserved it.

Leaving your frankly startling (if, admittedly, illustrative) mangling of the English language there for the moment, to suggest that a woman is drawing attention to something she felt uncomfortable with as a backhanded way to ‘big up’ her own beauty is utterly patronising and contemptuous. Nothing in the tweet suggests that Rafaeli meant it in that way ‒ granted, if she had signed off saying ‘Just got groped #itsahardlifebeingthisgorgeouslol’, I’d be writing a very different article. But she bloody well didn’t.

Unfortunately, it pains me to inform you that you haven’t succeeded in writing the witty article you thought you had. Instead, you’ve come within a string-bikini’s-breadth of suggesting that because Rafaeli is traditionally good looking (and yes, trades off those looks, which is a whole other subject), she deserves a grope, and should expect it, suggesting therefore that it is the woman (or man’s) fault when they are a victim of serious harassment.

Good looking or wearing revealing clothes? Expect a grope in the airline queue, ladies!

Oh yeah, let’s set the cause for equal rights back a hundred years, shall we? If a girl has the temerity to be a woman dressed in anything less than a sack, she is asking for it, right?

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I’m certain you wouldn’t want to imply that just because someone is rich, mildly famous and models underwear, they shouldn’t be allowed to whinge about an unwanted sexual grope now and again, right? Right?

Erm, no, absolutely fucking not. You don’t even need me to go in to the woefully low rates of conviction regarding sexual assault and rape ‒ or highlight some of the hideously immoral governments around the world (including some slightly closer to home than we’d all like to admit) that continue to enshrine in law the view that the blame for the mainly male-perpetrated, disgusting gender-related sexual crimes that take place against women on a daily basis lies with women themselves ‒ to describe how much that answer is no, right?

Harassment, intimidation, victimisation or rape, to use those examples in this case, in any form, is the fault of the perpetrator. Always, no ifs, no buts. End of story.

Whether the pat-down was entirely routine and Rafaeli misjudged its intention doesn’t even come into this. If she was made to feel uncomfortable, she was, and it shouldn’t have happened, and shouldn’t be allowed to happen to someone else (the unwanted touching, not the pat-down ‒ airport security is a whole other can of worms – smaller than 100ml and packed in a square plastic wallet, obviously). As I said at the beginning of this, the only thing it possibly merits is an investigation into the practices of airport security officers, if that.

To suggest that Rafaeli a) was bragging about being inappropriately patted-down, b) should expect it because she’s good looking and famous and/or c) deserves to have tunes offered up on the world’s smallest violin for her trouble, is fucking offensive, and I would have expected better from a usually interesting, forward-thinking and erudite publication such as yourselves.

Also, to insinuate that Rafaeli has no complaint purely because she got a foot massage the next day is so mindblowing stupid I don’t even know where to start. So I’ll end – restless in the knowledge that until this kind of bullshit stops getting published on usually-upstanding high-profile blogging sites such as yours, and added to in all manner of utterly shortsighted ways by equally misguided below-the-line commenters, feminism and all its followers still have a heck of a job to do.

Yours sincerely,

This blog.

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